Erdogan Vows to Continue Attack on PKK ‘to the Last Terrorist’

August 11, 2015  

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed that his country would press on with its relentless campaign against Kurdish militants “until not one terrorist” was left, as Ankara launched new air strikes against the rebels, reports AFP.

Turkey is currently pressing a two-pronged “anti-terror” offensive against Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists in Syria and PKK militants in northern Iraq and the southeast following a wave of attacks.

So far, however, the Turkish raids have concentrated on the PKK targets, and only three of them have officially been identified as targeting ISIS. The Kurdish rebels have responded by tearing up a 2013 ceasefire and waging a bloody campaign against the security forces.

“We will continue our fight until weapons are laid down… and not one single terrorist remains within our borders,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara.

He said the weapons of the PKK and other militant groups must be buried “under concrete” to show they were no longer a threat to the Turkish state.

“I’m not talking about laying down arms, I’m talking about burying them. I’d like to emphasize this,” Erdogan said.

Turkish warplanes overnight staged a fresh wave of attacks on Kurdish militant targets following a day of bloody attacks that killed six members of the security forces.

The overnight strikes hit 17 PKK targets in the southeastern province of Hakkari, destroying them all, the army said, according to AFP.

On Monday, four Turkish police officers were killed in a roadside bombing in the southeastern province of Sirnak while a Turkish soldier was killed in a rocket attack on a military helicopter.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul a senior police officer in charge of the city’s bomb disposal department was killed in clashes that followed a pre-dawn suicide bombing.

The PKK Tuesday claimed that attack, confirming that three of its members had been killed including a suicide bomber and dismissing claims a smaller leftist group had been behind the strike.

In new violence overnight, a Turkish soldier was killed in a gun attack on a military post in Sirnak, also blamed on the PKK.

Two Turkish F-16s then Tuesday afternoon destroyed PKK targets in Sirnak province, the army said.

According to an AFP toll, 29 members of the security forces have been killed in violence linked to the PKK since the current crisis began.

Erdogan said that the over two-week air campaign against the PKK had already inflicted “serious losses” on the group.

He also declared the peace process to end the PKK insurgency is currently “on ice.”

Ankara has also vowed to begin strikes in the next days against ISIS jihadists in Syria alongside American forces, who have now started arriving to use the well-located Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, following an accord signed between Washington and Ankara late last month.

Washington has long been pushing its NATO ally Turkey to step up the fight against ISIS and Ankara’s involvement in the coalition has been seen as a game-changing moment in the fight against ISIS.

Erdogan said “effective operations” were carried out against ISIS jihadists, saying the group also posed a threat to Turkish security.

“For us, there is no difference between terrorist organizations. Whatever their purpose is, for us, a terrorist organization is a terrorist organization,” he said.

AFP contributed to this report.

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